I am about to get in the car and head to Music City, but here are a couple of notes….
(1) Even after reflection, nothing about yesterday makes sense to me. However one thing is clear. This team is about as down as it gets. This is not a situation like two years ago where the chemistry is gone and the team is not getting along. But the guys on this team are miserable. The players are having zero fun, they dont understand why this is happening and to a person they all seem to be dreading playing basketball. The coaches also look miserable and Billy Gillispie seems like one of the most unhappy people I have ever been around. Throw in the fact that the fans are getting restless (as seen by one guy standing up when Rupp was quiet and screaming “Go back to Texas Billy”) and it just isnt a great place to be. I worry that with more losses, the negativity amps up and you have to be concerned about the coaches losing the team. As one former player told me, “coaches have to get respect. And if you are losing a lot, it is hard to have that respect.” Lets hope that doesnt happen.
(2) Even though Kentucky plays Florida International Monday (in a game that may be the lowest attended ever at Rupp Arena), all eyes are now pointed to the Music City Bowl. Keenan Burton is now back to doubtful and Jason Leger has been suspended for the game. Other than that the team is tact. Nashville is apparently entirely decked out in blue at this point and I cant wait to get down there to be part of the scene. Tomorrow should be fun and if the Cats pull out a win, few in the future will remember the low numbers of Seminole players who didnt dress.
(3) Quick roundup of the high school basketball action. Scotty Hopson was MVP of the KOB in Louisville. He had a great week, dazzling the onlookers and showing why he has the potential to be one of the best in the country. Hopson is looking at a number of schools now, including Kentucky and UL, but I am hearing that his favorite right now is Tennessee. Bruce Pearl has done a great job recruiting him and he loves the style of play in Knoxville. Count the Big Orange as the front runner.
As for Darius Miller, he is in the finals tonight against Lexington Catholic and has had a great run in the Fifth Third Tournament. He has once again shown why he can be both a great scorer and distributor and has taken it to all of his opponents. His matchup with Clark Stepp was a bit of a dud as he held Stepp under control and the June Buchanan star had an off night on an important game. I say this often but it remains true….go see Darius while he is in high school. You will be glad you did.
(4) Finally, like you I have heard all the rumors about the transfer in of a big man for second semester. The source of all these rumors is Lonnie Demaree, a great guy who I love, who says he is hearing one may be able to transfer in and begin second semester. While I trust Lonnie, I find this one hard to believe. If such a player existed, you would likely already find him practicing and a part of the team. Every potential player that could fit the bill (including Gilchrist who is at Maryland now) would already have the ability to be here and the fact that they arent suggests that there is no fire around this smoke. If I hear otherwise, I will certainly put it up here, but for now I think this rumor is just that, a rumor.
Time to head down the interstate….more from Nashville…..